Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy (Matthew 6:9).

In December 2014, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met LeBron James, the most famous basketball player in the US. Despite the fact that one of his nicknames is “King James,” he is in fact not royalty, and protocol demanded that he should not touch the Duke or Duchess. Not knowing this, LeBron put his arm around the couple and posed for a photograph. This was a shocking break in decorum for some, but the royal couple seemed comfortable and shared that they enjoyed meeting “King” James.

As strange as it seems, there’s something similar but far more profound in the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer begins simply enough, with Jesus saying “Our Father in heaven.” But we should recognize that Jews of that time didn’t pray directly to God as their father—instead, they referred to God as the God of their forefathers, of Abraham and Isaac, as Jacob prayed in Genesis 32:9: “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O LORD . . .” There was a sense of separation in the way they called out to God.

But Jesus revealed that we don’t pray to God because He’s the God of our forefathers, but because He’s our Father. This would have been a shocking revelation of intimacy for the disciples—they could speak with God in a closer way! This intimate portrayal is reinforced elsewhere in Jesus’ teachings, especially when He described God as being the wonderful Father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).

Before I pray, I like to remind myself of the fact that I’m not only communicating with the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, but the God who is my Father. The power of prayer, then, is not so much in how we pray, but to whom we pray—our heavenly Father!

This passage first appeared on


A Revelation of Intimacy